Sunday, December 7, 2014

Adeus Portugal!!

Time for ugly Christmas sweaters!
This week it rained. all while i was dying. i dont have shoes that keep the rain out so my feet were wet. all week. tuesday we were working, and we expected to have ward council at night. we were both excited because we were both wet. and then we get a text that it was cancelled. That was sad. Wednesday and thursday we did divisions with the sisters in Barreiro. AND IT RAINED NON STOP THE WHOLE TWO DAYS. it was so fun to be with them, to get to know them and such (it really is the best part of being STL), but this rain is driving me insane. i have a new appreciation for snow. i started putting on socks, putting and taping plastic bags on my feet, and then putting tights on. my feet still got wet. sigh.

i really love seixal. i really do. ive broken down crying several times this week because i love this place and these people sooo much. we sang the spirit of god in sacrament meeting, and i just bawled. i gave a talk on sunday too and almost didnt make it through because i was crying. I just really love my recent converts and the members and this ward and how diverse it is and how true the chruch is. i love it so so so so much.

At district meeting the elders in my district made us crepes because we got really annoyed with them last week (we did literally everything for their baptism and they didnt thank us or let us have a ride home with a member) and because it was our last district meeting this transfer.

Wednesday i destroyed my boots. i can literally put my whole hand through the bottom. i managed to get 10 dollars out of my account and was looking at stores all day to try to find a cheap pair of rain boots, but to no avail. i got home with wet, sore feet.

The next day i just wore flats as we went on divisions with the sister in Setubal!!! this was also thanksgiving. it was really great, all the missionaries in the city of setubal, all eight of them, had a thanksgiving lunch. casserole, pasta, chicken... and the latinas, sisters ventura e camacho, dressed up as indians and the gentile sisters, sister anderson, dressed up as a pilgrim. it was reallly fun. i got to do a division with sister ventura who is in her second transfer, and she is a hoot. easily my most favorite part of being STL is meeting all these new wonderful sisters. and, as it started to rain that evening, we found a store that had super cute super cheap rain boots! it was a miracle!

Saturday we marked a 14 year old girl for baptism. This girl, Bruna, goes to all the activities and has been to church, and she accepted to be baptized! pray for her that she will stay firm!

saturday and sunday were also stake conference. as i sat in the chapel, listening to the stake president talk about conversion, i started bawling. it reminded me of a farewell talk of a friend during a stake conference, over 2 years ago in provo where i felt the spirit soooo strongly telling me  i would be going on a mission. I really didnt want to go, and i didnt know why He wanted me to go, and for the first year of my mission, with the lack of success that i had, i really didnt feel a confirmation that i was supposed to be there. and as i sat in those chapels, i felt the conversion that i had gained on my mission. and i knew, the spirit whispered to me, that is why. If not for anything else, because God needed me to be more than i was becoming by myself, and so he sent me out here to grow, to learn by experience, to become converted so i could then strenghten my bretheren. and i am and will be eternally grateful for that.

Well, not much else happened this weekend, so i guess i would just like to end with my testimony.

I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that it is the word of God. I know because i feel the power that comes from that book from every verse i read. I have recieved so many answers to prayer from the words in that Book. I know it is true. I know Joseph Smith was and is the Prophet of the restoration. I know that he dilligently searched out, and found, answers to his questions, and just like him, we can all know the truth for ourselves. I know he saw God and Christ in that grove in 1820, and that was the beginning of the restoration of the fulness of the gospel. I am so grateful he didnt give up in his search.

I know we have a prophet today. What a blessing it is to know that there is a living prophet, Thomas S Monson who leads and guides this church, following the direction of Christ. There is no other church with this truth, there is no other chruch with the living priesthood power. How grateful i am for this knowledge!

I know that God loves us. I think i came out on my mission, and that was the strongest part of my little testimony, that if i knew nothing else, i knew that God loved me. and now that I am at the end of my mission, that belief has become so strong that i would even say it is a knowledge. To see the way that He worked with me and prepared me and succored me to get me on a mission and to feel the way He strengthened me and helped me and changed me while i was out here and now to be at the end and be able to look back at His work and be in awe of His love and how personally He knows me and knows my potential, I cannot deny that He is there, and He is our Father.

He loves us so much that He sent His son. The firstborn of God came down and lived as we did, but He lived better than we did. The only being to get through this life without a single sin, mistake, error... and yet that same man suffered beyond what any man can comprehend, suffering that caused even a god to tremble and ask if there was another way. and then He let Himself die, all for us. All so that He could know what we go through, and so that He can plead my cause and your cause for us to the Father on that judgement day. He is our advocate with the Father. Until i realized how imperfect i am and how much more i had to grow, I didnt realize how much that means. Oh it is wonderful! That He should care for me enough to die for me. And i will continue to remember that, to grow, to repent, to change every day to show my gratitude and to be worthy of such a gift like the atonement of Christ.

And even though Jesus Christ died, i know He resurrected. I KNOW HE LIVES. I know He is our savior and redeemer. If nothing else that i did on my mission proved to be of any worth, this is the most important thing, the most valuble lesson that i gained from this year and a half of my life... this witness of Jesus Christ.

I know He lives, and I know that This is this church.

As my mission winds down, i realize though, how much i love this place. i love this culture, I love these people more than words can describe, i love this spirit that i feel every day, i love my strict schedule, i love being obedient, i love pastries, i love getting fed too much by the members, i love speaking portuguese with all my heart, i love seixal, i love getting to know other missionaries, i love president and sister fluckiger, i love being an STL, i love this work, I LOVE MY MISSION!!!!! my heart is breaking and the tears roll as i even ponder the thought of leaving.

But, that day will come. I always knew it would. There were days where i couldnt wait for it to come and thought i would die here, and there were days that i never ever ever wanted to leave. this last year and a half i have been able to stand as a full time witness of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ amongst the Portugese  people. But just because i will go home soon, and will take my tag off, and will no longer be a full time missionary, that doesnt mean in any way shape or form that i will stop being a witness of Jesus Christ in all times, all things, and all places until the end of my life. my tag is written on my heart.

I encourage all who can to serve a mission. you will not regret it!

I love you all! and i love my mission!

Paz, amor, casamento do templo,

Sister Briggs

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